Is fear running the legal innovation show?

November 10, 2018

Fear. The mother of all avoidance, falsehood and untested assumptions.

Fear. It slows us down, holds us back and has us second guess.

Fear. It riddles us with doubt, messes with our confidence, and invites worry.

Fear. It stares down at courage and is just as contagious.

Fear. It thwarts innovation, paralyses original thinking and closes our minds to change.

Often self-described as “unique”, lawyers have high performing minds. We spend years learning how to “think like a lawyer”. We are characterised by our ability to look at a problem from all angles, being emotional disentangled, deducing a conclusion from general rules, constructing syllogisms, inferring general rules from patterns of specifics, questioning everything, and accepting ambiguity [i]. We are often cast as superb judges and problem solvers.

However, our hard wiring can also work against us if we allow it to be the dominant script in our head.

For example, when you give a scenario to a lawyer, it is likely they will immediately start thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Conversely, give a scenario to a non-lawyer and it’s likely that they will immediately start thinking about all the things that could go right.

What’s the difference? Mindset.

Positive psychology teaches us that if we label innovation as complicated, time consuming, a threat to our jobs, not part of a lawyer’s role, risky, inferior lawyering, too hard, a distraction from our important day jobs, confusing, and asking for failure, our mindset becomes fear-full.

If we label innovation positively as enhancing, invigorating, an opportunity to learn, grow, drive efficiency and be transformative, our mindset becomes more fear-less.

As masters of lateral thinking, lawyers ought to be ripe for having an open mind to the unconventional. Yet, when it comes to the current adoption rate of legal innovation across the industry, it seems that fear has been running the show, and us lawyers might not have been aware of it [ii].

The act of legal transformation all starts with your mindset, and your willingness to tear up the old script, and learn some new legally innovative lines –

Fear  Courage. Face Everything And Rise.

Fear  Courage. Facilitate Efficiency And Reinvention.

Fear  Courage. Foster Excellence And Relevance.

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This is an extract from my new e-book, Legally Innovative. You can discover it here.

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[i] http://www.wikihow.com/Think-Like-a-Lawyer

[ii] The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

Photo by Caleb Woods via Unsplash.
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